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Alternatives to juvenile pleas

Juvenile crime is serious business in Texas. You probably do not want your child to plead to any of these types of charges — there could be a better way to address the problem.

Kids make mistakes, and the Texas justice system provides a few considerations for children who break the law. Knowing the benefits that the system could provide may mean the difference between lifelong consequences and a speedy resolution for your case.

The problem with a guilty plea

One of the biggest mistakes many people make — and this is not only for juveniles who have been accused of crimes — is pleading guilty to a charge when they do not need to do so. Prosecutors and court officials will almost always offer this option, as it is usually fairly simple for the prosecution. Furthermore, a guilty plea justifies the actions of police and investigatory personnel. For juvenile arrestees, especially those accused of theft, vandalism and drug offenses, there could be a unique alternative to accepting the evidence or pleading guilty to the charges.

The timing for deferred prosecution

Deferred prosecution is a special provision in Texas law for juveniles. A judge can extend this probation period to any child who has not yet agreed to a plea deal or admitted to an offense. Judges must also do this before the jury or witnesses are sworn in. 

This could be a powerful option for your child, but your ability to use it depends on timing and knowledge of procedure. Furthermore, it is important that your child does not make any deals with prosecutors before attempting to pursue this alternative form of supervision.

The bottom line is that deferred prosecution is often a good way to make the charges against your child go away. However, you would have to act appropriately and quickly to take advantage of this option. To see if this alternative, or one of the other forms of reduced or diverted sentencing, is right for you, it would be wise to perform a complete legal analysis of your case.

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